9.3 Enhance climate prediction capabilities for the Arctic system from sub-seasonal to decadal timescales and climate projection capabilities up to centennial timescales by focusing on improving earth system models and their interactions, and assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the various coupled regional arctic and earth system models by conducting intercomparison and model evaluations.

Regional and global earth system models are mathematical representations of scientific understanding of the interrelated feedbacks and processes in the earth. As new process models are developed based on understanding from new observations, they need to be incorporated into earth system models for a holistic representation of the feedbacks within the earth system. These models need to be evaluated against observations and compared against each other, to verify their veracity across a wide range of spatial and temporal scales. Climate modeling centers funded by different U.S. and international agencies are working on increasing the resolution and complexity of regional and global earth System models. Enhancements relevant to the Arctic include variable resolution models with higher resolution focused mainly on the Arctic, improved representation of ice-sheets, more realistic aerosol-cloud interactions, complex biogeochemical processes related to permafrost evolution and degradation, better ocean-ice and ice-snow process, to name a few. As part of the next phase of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP6), many of these models will be evaluated against observations and compared with each other. In addition, many agencies are supporting and developing capabilities for assimilation of observations and for prediction. Assimilation and reanalyses activities merge observations and earth system models and these can be used in validating and increasing scientific understanding of how well climate models perform, characterizing uncertainty in these models, while also guiding the next set of Arctic observations.

Performance elements from the Arctic research plan

  • 9.3.1. Support the configuration and the initial development of a global variable resolution model with very high resolution in the Arctic that will allow high-resolution interactions within the Arctic System and interactions between the Arctic and mid-latitudes
  • 9.3.2 Support model development activities in global earth system models focusing on increased resolution, better coupling techniques, and inclusion of new process models in the Arctic for improved predictions, projections, and better representation of extreme events. In addition to developing models for CMIP6, this will include routine global ocean data assimilation capabilities linked to Global Ocean Observing System observations.
  • 9.3.3 Foster interactions between the Arctic Testbed and Environmental Modeling Center’s weather modeling efforts to facilitate the improvement of model guidance at higher latitudes.
  • 9.3.4 Support model development of Regional Arctic System Models focusing on improved resolution, better coupling, inclusion of new process models, and better assimilation techniques for improved seasonal predictions.
  • 9.3.5 Support Systematic Improvements to Reanalyses of the Arctic (SIRTA) to address the need for improved models of Arctic weather, sea ice, glaciers, ecosystems, and other components of the Arctic System.
  • 9.3.6 Coordinate and support the ISMIP6 efforts in the U.S. by integrating ice- sheet models into coupled climate and earth system models to both: (1) improve sea level projections due to changes in the cryosphere; and (2) enhance scientific understanding of the cryosphere in a changing climate.

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